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AFAR Guide to Mexico

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Coast to coast, Mexico is a colorful paradise for every kind of traveler. Explorers wander dozens of archeological sites (Indiana Jones style) like the ancient Mayan pyramid of Palenque in Chiapas. Sunbathers, spa-goers and tequila drinkers enjoy the thousands of miles of coastline, namely Tulum and Los Cabos. Adventurers get their kicks snorkeling off the Yucatan or hiking copper canyon. Locals and visitors alike rave about the food, art, culture and climate.
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Avenida Coppel s&n, Zona Nuevo, 82110 Mazatlán, Sin., Mexico
I'm not a big spa person, but I've never seen anything like this. The men's spa in the Emerald Bay Resort is one of the most beautifully designed and aesthetically pleasing rooms I've ever been in. There are several different kinds of showers to...
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Magdalena Bay, Baja California Sur, Mexico
The ocean churns as a 36-ton mammal swims up to the boat. With your arm plunged into the cool water, you await the touch of a California gray whale. Like a house cat craving a scratch on the head, the whale pushes its rubbery skin, rough with...
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Carretera Federal, Cancun - Chetumal Km 230, 307, 77780 Tulum, Q.R., Mexico
While not as large as other ancient Mayan cities in the region, Tulum draws in visitors for its stunning setting of centuries-old temples perched on a cliff by the Caribbean Sea. You’ll pass a large market with souvenirs, a casual Mexican...
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Monte Nahuac Lote L, 63734 Higuera Blanca, Nay., Mexico
Check out the tub in my bathroom at the Imanta Resort, just outside of Punta Mita, Mexico. It's an amazing 12 room property on the hillside overlooking the Pacific Ocean. This tub was a boulder on the property and they built the suite around it....
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Carretera a Pichilingue km 5.5 next to Hotel La Concha, Zona Central, 23000 La Paz, B.C.S., Mexico
"“Aeeeeiiiiiiiiii”, Shauna shrieked, splashing heavily trying to flee the boulder-sized head coming at her. Her stunned scream set off a chain reaction of fear throughout the group – four of us swished about, creating waves in the green, cold...
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Av Cto Baluartes, Zona Centro, 24000 Campeche, Camp., Mexico
Campeche is a small city located, in the southwestern portion of the Yucatan Peninsula, along the Gulf of Mexico. After Spanish occupation, pirates and marauders terrorized Campeche until 1686 when a wall was built around the city to protect it....
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Ferrocarrilera, Mazatlán, Sin., Mexico
Mexico is full of beach tourism destination and well-known surf spots. Mazatlan is not particularly well known for either of these (it's known as more of a cultural destination) but that doesn't mean that they don't exist there. The city of...
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Dolores Hidalgo, Guanajuato, Mexico
This has to be the most colorful thing I've ever seen in a cemetery. In the town of Dolores Hidalgo in central Mexico, singer José Alfredo Jiménez (1926-1973), "El Rey," is memorialized by this sombrero-and-serape tomb. The names of some of his...
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Benito Juarez SN Esq. Miguel Hidalgo, Centro, 23033 Todos Santos, B.C.S., Mexico
“Dude” is a word that's used a lot around Rancho Pescadero, a small hotel in the surfing town of Todos Santos, located in the Mexican state of Baja California. The rooms here, however, don't reflect the dude aesthetic, which is to say...
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Edzna, Campeche, Mexico
Edzna is a large Maya ruin located about an hour away from Campeche, Mexico. The features a five story ceremonial pyramid, which was constructed in the Classic Period (650-900 AD). The site has a long history that dates back to the Preclassic...
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Juárez, 71980 Puerto Escondido, Oax., Mexico
Puerto Escodido, Oaxaca is primarily known for its double overhead barrels and surf scene. However there are some nice secluded coves protected from the massive surf, where one can enjoy calm, warm Pacific waters and eat fresh mariscos on the...
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Oaxaca, Mexico
The natural fresh-water springs at Hierve el Agua were incredible (and cold!). The water is very high in calcium carbonate, and the minerals have formed these natural pools and crazy waterfall-like rock formations. The dusty road was somewhat...
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Ocotlán, Tlax., Mexico
Chef Estela Salas Silva’s maternal great-great-grandmother came from France to Mexico in the 1860s to cook for wealthy families in the city of Puebla. Today, in the nearby town of Tlaxcala, Silva passes on her ancestors’ recipes, which mix...
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La Quebrada, Acapulco, Gro., Mexico
There are several of these cliff-diving shows a day (unfortunately I can't remember the name of the cove, but say 'cliff divers' in Acapulco and everyone knows what you're talking about). To call them 'shows' is a bit belittling, though. They dive...
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Calle 28 de Septiembre 109B, Zona Centro, 36000 Guanajuato, Gto., Mexico
For less than $2, you can take a quick funicular ride to the Pipila Monument to get this top-of-the-world view of Guanajuato, Mexico. We arrived just after sunset, when lights were flickering across the colorful city. There were people around, but...
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playa Zipolite, Avenida Principal, Oax., Mexico
on a sleepy coast in Oaxaca you'll find beachside town of zipolite. beautiful beach lined with thatched hut palapas and a few newer stylish cabana places. cheap, mellow, great place to be in the moment. hammocks available to with lockers in most...
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Boca de paila Km 5.5, 77766 Tulum, Q.R., Mexico
Rustic luxury is the vibe at Amansala, where all accommodations are cabana-style. How rustic? Well, lights go out at 11 each night, after which time candles provide illumination. Ocean breezes do the work that is relegated to air-conditioners at...
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La Gloria, Isla Mujeres, Q.R., Mexico
If you're not a fan of huge resorts and big hotels, Isla Mujeres is the perfect getaway from Cancun. Just catch the ferry to the island located 13km to the northeast of Cancun. The ferry ride in itself is enjoyable, as you float over shallow reefs...
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Latin America
San Francisco, Mexico (called San Pancho by the locals) is a great place to spend a week. It's a tiny town on the beach near Puerta Vallarta and it's not tourist-y at all so you can really experience Mexican culture. Great Place to take the...
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Av. Francisco Medina s/n, Lázaro Cárdenas, 48330 Puerto Vallarta, Jal., Mexico
Dinners at Hacienda Del Puente are incredible, but lunches are less expensive and you have the place to yourself. Sure, the mariachi band isn't there to entertain you—but the house's architecture details are enough to do so on their own.
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Malecón, Zona Romántica, Amapas, 48399 Puerto Vallarta, Jal., Mexico
This novel walking tour combines a power work-out with sightseeing. You'll climb a steep hill to reach a look-out spot with sweeping views of Vallarta and Banderas Bay, then descend to see Elizabeth Taylor's and Richard Burton's former homes (and...
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Tonina, Chis., Mexico
The ancient Maya city of Tonina has its ceremonial core built onto a hillside, creating the appearacnce of one massive pyramid. Tonina reached its zenith during the Classic Period (250-900 AD) and was an adversary of Palenque. The hillside temple...
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Palenque was a classic Maya city-state located in Chiapas, Mexico, and has gained notoriety among Maya archaeologists for its extravagant architecture and refined art and writings. The temples perched upon a hill adjacent to the main plaza of...
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Santo Tomás, 29160 Chiapa de Corzo, Chis., Mexico
During the ParaChico's festival, in January 2012, I snapped this photo of a group of women headed down the street to join the parades of men dressed in brush hats, blue-eyed masks, and colorful capes. For an entire week, huge groups of people...
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Agua Azul, Chis., Mexico
Deep in the jungles of Chiapas turquoise rivers emerge from deep springs. Agua Azul is a series of cascades and pools found just off the road between Ocosingo and Palenque. Closer to Palenque, and equally accessible, is Misol Ha, a dramatic...
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San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chis., Mexico
On the border of the state of Chiapas (Mexico) and Guatemala, there is a national park, Lagunas de Montebello. It contains numerous lakes and cenotes, mostly spring fed from waters deep in the mineral depths of the earth. Each body of water is...
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Latin America
The water in Mexico isn’t only by the beach. This is Misol-Ha. Located deep in the jungles of Chiapas, the waters of Misol-Ha cascade 35 meters down into a 13.7 meter deep pool of water. The entire area is surrounded by lush tropical vegetation....
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Zinacantán, Chis., Mexico
Which one should I get? That’s a question we’ve all asked or have had asked of us on many a shopping spree. We were faced with this dilemma on a visit to a Mayan women’s weaving cooperative in the small village of Zinacantán, located in the...
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A cenote is pretty much an underwater cave. The Mayas called them "dzonot," which the conquering Spaniards later translated as "cenote." Cenotes are magical, and were once the ONLY resource for fresh and sweet water in the local Yucatecan jungle....
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Riviera Maya, Quintana Roo, Mexico
Of the 240 acres that make up the Mayakoba luxury hotel complex, 45—dotted with tropical forests, shimmering canals, and Caribbean coastline—comprise the Fairmont. Built with an environmentally friendly design (only boats, bikes, and...
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Cobá, Q.R., Mexico

Outside of Tulum, the ancient Mayan ruins of Coba go on for what seem like miles. This tower included 100-something steep steps, and after I got over my initial fear about tumbling down them, I climbed every single one—with a little help and...

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Quintana Roo, Mexico
Once the vacation home of the Italian Duchess Rosa de Ferrari, this exceptional estate was converted into a hotel in 2005. 2014 marked the arrival of a new owner and a new era for the property. Today, Hotel Esencia is an elegant...
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Carretera Federal, Cancun - Chetumal Km 230, 307, 77780 Tulum, Q.R., Mexico
A visit to old Mayan Ruins is a must when you are vacationing in Tulum. It's a perfect trip to sneak in some history and activity without too much effort and without loosing sight of ocean and the beach. Being built in 13th century Tulum Ruins...
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Tulum, Quintana Roo, Mexico
In early April, I spent a week on a yoga retreat at Amansala in Tulum, Mexico. We had four hours of yoga and Pilates practice a day, and I spent the rest of my time on the beach, swimming in the ocean, reading books (I finished Gabrielle...
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Tulum, Quintana Roo, Mexico
What combats humidity and sweltering air that feels like it's being expelled from a jet engine? Paletas! At less than a dollar and in a range of bright juicy flavors, these little Mexican popsicles offer a melty respite from the summer heat. Try...
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Tulum, Quintana Roo, Mexico
Eco-chic yoga beach spa. Even if you do not practice yoga, the spa treatments are heavenly. You can rent a bike and take a short ride to the ruins down the road. You probably get a better deal if you book a yoga package thru one of the yoga groups...
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Colima 166, Roma Nte., 06700 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico
Perhaps it’s more interested in diner loyalty than in snagging prizes, but chef Elena Reygadas’s original Mexico City restaurant is still beloved—and busier than ever. So while a few greatest hits linger season to season,...
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Agrícola, Chimalistac, Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico
"The architect, Eduardo Mata, was inspired by the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam and the Berliner Philharmonie. I love performing in this monumental building. It was specially designed for symphonic music, and the audience surrounds the musicians...
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Paseo de la Reforma & Calzada Gandhi S/N, Chapultepec Polanco, Miguel Hidalgo, 11560 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico
Housed in a 1964 structure whose modern lines and central fountain greatly complement what's on view, this anthropology museum is a repository of the most important pre-Hispanic treasures modern Mexico has discovered. The works are...
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Plaza de la Constitución S/N, Centro Histórico, Centro, 06010 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico
I was blown away by the sheer size of the Zocalo - main square in Mexico City. The crowd is minimal because everyone was watching Mexico in a World Cup soccer mach at the time. This picture was taken from the 3rd floor terrace of a restaurant...
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Av. Insurgentes Nte. 1980, Lindavista, 07300 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico
Precariously standing on a thin strip of concrete, four feet above an angry bull, I wondered what my insurance deductible would be if I slipped. Earlier in the morning I had driven down to Lienzo Charro Regionales de la Villa or as I prefer to...
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Latin America
Xochicalco is a fascinating archaeological site located a few hours south of Mexico City in the state of Morelos. The site came to prominence after the fall of Teotihuacan and may have played a part in Teotihuacan's demise by blocking valuable...
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Ignacio Allende Esquina Av. Miguel Hidalgo, Coyoacán TNT, Coyoacán, 04000 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico
Once a separate town, the leafy colonial neighborhood known as Coyoacán has long been absorbed into the city at large, but retains a separate, old-fashioned air that’s impossible to resist. Restaurants and ice cream parlors (plus some...
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Puebla 121, Roma Nte., 06700 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico
For libations in Colonia Roma, visit the cantina Salón Covadonga, where waiters in white shirts and bow ties serve up palomas, tequila drinks made with grapefruit soda. At this sprawling local institution, you’re just as likely to find old-timers...
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Avenida Álvaro Obregón 99, Roma Norte, Roma Nte., 06700 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico
Housed in a mansion built in 1911, Casa Lamm is a cultural center, art school, and gallery. The permanent collection includes works by such notable Mexican artists as landscape painter Abelardo López and sculptor Jorge Marín. Sign up for a...
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San Ángel Inn, Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico
This used to be a hacienda, but it was turned into a restaurant almost 50 years ago. The food is phenomenal and the margaritas are famous—in fact, they’re my favorite thing on the menu. There is always a band or a pianist playing. 50 Diego Rivera...
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Mexico City, CDMX, Mexico
Name:Alfonsina Peñaloza
Age: 31
Neighborhood: San Ángel, Mexico City, Mexico
Occupation: Alfonsina works for Ethos, a nonprofit that conducts research and advises governments and other organizations on economic, gender equality, and human rights...
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Av. Veracruz 102, Roma Nte., 06700 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico
Mexican hotelier Grupo Habita turned the shell of a 1928 French neoclassical mansion into a wholly contemporary property, CONDESAdf, which immediately became the standard for boutique hotels in Mexico City when it opened to rave reviews...
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One of the best seafood restaurants in Mexico, as far as I’m concerned. They havetostadas de atúnwith a chipotle sauce, a thin sashimi-like slice of tuna with avocado and fried leek on top. Absolutely delicious. 57 Avenida de la Paz...
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Madero 3, San Ángel TNT, San Ángel, 01000 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico
A traditional Mexican cantina. When I was in college, I played dominoes there every Thursday with some good girlfriends. 3 Francisco I. Madero 52/55-5616-4668 As told to Nathalie Jordi. This story appeared in the March/April 2010 issue. See all of...
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Insurgentes Sur 2113, San Ángel, 01000 Alvaro Obregon, CDMX, Mexico
This place, near the 16th-century Convento del Carmen, is famous for its churros, fried dough rolled in cinnamon sugar. A mandatory stop. 4 Plaza del Carmen 52/55-5616-0978 As told to Nathalie Jordi. This story appeared in the March/April 2010...
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Av. Juárez, Centro Histórico, Centro, 06050 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico
The imposing, white-domed wedding cake now known as Palacio de Bellas Artes was originally planned as a national theater, and construction was begun in 1904. The Mexican Revolution, among other things, postponed its completion until 1934, which...
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Historic center of Mexico City, Centro, 06000 Mexico City, CDMX, Mexico
Its massive size, centrality to daily life in the capital, and easy accessibility (a Metro station opens up right onto the plaza) makes the Zócalo an ideal place for large-scale temporary exhibits. The government hosts occasional exhibits...
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Plaza San Jacinto 11, San Ángel TNT, San Ángel, 01000 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico
Once a separate municipality, San Ángel—in the city’s south, nestled into its western foothills—is a leafy, genteel enclave whose relative isolation adds a soigné feel (for better or worse) you won’t find in...